Decision to cut back Cirencester's two main bus routes has outraged residents
Sally Grimes is campaigning to save bus route 59. Pictured, a passenger gets off a route 59 bus outside the parish church.
A DECISION to cut back Cirencester's two main bus routes has outraged pensioners who say they are a vital lifeline.
From June 23, the number 59 and number 58 bus services will be trimmed by Stagecoach as part of cost cutting measures because the company claims not enough people are using them.
Currently both services run from Cirencester Market Place until around 6pm Monday to Saturday. Under the new plan the last bus would leave at 2.30pm.
Sally Grimes, who uses the 59 bus daily, said: “There are an awful lot of elderly people in the town that use the 59. People are in a panic because they cannot understand it. They will not be able to afford taxis.
“We could understand it if they cut it to 5.30pm but a lot of people use that service. I counted at least 20 people on the bus last night.”
The number 59 bus runs through several of Cirencester’s main neighbourhoods such as Chesterton and Stratton and the town centre. The number 58 serves Stratton and the town centre.
Cirencester mayor Joe Harris said he was puzzled by Stagecoach's decision.
“As somebody who has used both of these buses frequently it is very concerning. To stop it at 2.30pm seems very odd.
“There are a lot of people who use these buses later in the evening for getting back from work or school.
His views were echoed elsewhere in the town.
"There are children who want to use them to get back to Stratton or Chesterton in the evenings after school.”
Cllr Harris’ views were echoed by Vanessa Woodvine, manager of Age UK in Cirencester.“ It is a lifeline for those that use them,” she said.
“It would affect those who do not have any cars. Many rely on the service , they need it to get their pension and do not have anybody to help them.
“Those who use the transport, they rely on it. It does affect them a lot. Without those services they will be stuck.”
Rupert Cox, Managing Director of Stagecoach West dismissed claims that the bus services are frequently used and said that they are being cut back as it was not economically viable to run them anymore.
She said: “Services 58 and 59 were re-introduced in November 2013. Most morning and early afternoon journeys carry sufficient passengers to cover the cost of running the bus, however later afternoon journeys often carry less than five people. This low usage has meant that the journeys could not be sustained and so will be withdrawn later this month.”
When the busses are cut back the only late busses that people can get are the number 51 Cricklade bus, which stops at some destinations in Stratton and the Cheltenham bus which stops off in the town centre and Watermoor.
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